You know from my last two days’ posts what I think about the false safety net of multivitamins. I was not trying to being comprehensive when I suggest that some specific supplementation may be appropriate for some people. (Note that I was responding to the question, “Should I take MULTIVITAMINS?” Not “Should I ever take any kind of supplement?”)
Today and tomorrow I’m replying in detail to a couple of comments on these blog entries. Dr. Tim Miller said this, which I agree with as another example:
“Robyn, you might want to say a little something about vitamin B12. Any of your readers (including me!) who are vegan will almost certainly become B12 deficient over time unless they supplement. If a vegan uses products that include spirulina or chlorella, distributors of those often claim they supply B12. That’s speculative at best. What they contain is a B12 analog, from what I’ve been able to find by researching, and it may or may not satisfy the body’s need for B12. To be safe, why not supplement with B12 if you’re a vegan? B12 is so essential for nerve and brain health. It pays to be safe.”
The body needs very little B12, however–and that the human body stores it well, and stores it long. Eating red meat or supplementing very occasionally is enough. This is not something I personally worry about since I’m not strictly vegan and my B levels are good historically. Like you, I am not entirely sure the claims about aloe vera, nutritional yeast, and sea vegetables providing B12 are accurate.
Nor, however, am I convinced that red meat is the only way. Garden produce that isn’t well washed, from organic soil, is another idea. If the gut of mammals we consume (cows) metabolize and convert soil organisms to that elusive B “vitamin,” it follows that our own gut may be able to use soil organisms, as well. (I put vitamin in quotes because B12 is a rather different character than other vitamins, plus plant sources may be analogs–more data is needed.) Soil organisms are also present in VitaMineral Green (which I have in caps form in the GreenSmoothieGirl store).
The best way to supplement with B vitamins may be injected weekly at hormone clinics or medical practices specializing in natural treatments. (Or you can purchase the shots to administer yourself.) (Dr. Rodier in Draper, or Wellnique which is now Utah Wellness Center in Orem, if you’re local.) Most B vitamins are water soluble, which means that excesses are not normally stored in the body, B12 being a notable exception. I have read estimates of anywhere from 3 to 5 years that it will take from the day you eliminate animal products from your diet, to develop a deficiency. (Or you can do like me, and eat them very sparingly.)
So: B12 supplement may be a good idea for vegans and isn’t likely to hurt anyone, though I think very sporadic supplementation is fine.
Tomorrow, I respond to Dr. Blaine Chambers’ comment (he is a supplement formulator/marketer). I will tell my own story about my former career selling supplements and how I came to believe that they are giving us a false sense of security.